Let’s get the academic stuff out of the way first. According to Anca Gata’s piece on antiheroes, he/she is someone who “rejects tradition and old values,” is “usually frustrated [and/or] isolated” and “not only lacks heroism, but opposes it” (“Encyclopaedia of the Sixties: A Decade of Culture and Counterculture,” Abbe A. Debolt and James S. Baugess.) Dictionary.com defines the antihero as “a protagonist who lacks the attributes that make a heroic figure, a nobility of mind and spirit, a life or attitude marked by action or purpose, and the like.” In short, the antihero is everything a hero isn’t; they are not brave, they are not selfless. But we love them for it.
Nobody’s perfect. It’s hard to identify with the shining white knight or Superman. Also, “if every character was a stereotypical archetype of morality, or if every character behaved exactly like we expected him/her to, movies would be boring and predictable.” (Layman’s Film, Corey B.) When the character guiding you through a film is a person of questionable morals or actions, then you know that the road is going to be far from smooth.
You may notice certain popular characters that are missing from the list, such as The Joker in the Batman films, Patrick Bateman in American Psycho and Alex DeLarge of A Clockwork Orange. In my research, I found that these names cropped up a lot, but I wouldn’t regard them as antiheroes; I’d regard them as villains. The characters I have listed below are not pure evil. Some of them are misguided, some of them just have to make the best of bad situations and others have to fight to survive. They cannot be entirely blamed for their faults. We love them because they’re just like us: damaged, lost, confused, with a little bit of a dark side or just plain crazy!